In 1921, D. W. Thorpe left a well-paid job as manager of a paper and stationery business to found The Australian Stationery and Fancy Goods Journal. By 1928 he was aware that publishers did not like their book advertisements surrounded by stationery news, and so established All About Books for Australian and New Zealand Readers as a supplement to the trade journal and a separate publication for general readers.
In the inaugural editorial Thorpe declared that the journal aimed to provide 'information rather than criticism', laying 'no claim to literary distinction'. Nevertheless, Thorpe engaged a number of significant critics to provide reviews and articles. These included G. H. Cowling, Nettie Palmer and Frederick Macartney. Cowling and others commented on a broad range of literary topics from Australia and overseas, including topics such as modernism in poetry and fiction, and profiles of significant overseas authors. Palmer and Macartney, in consecutive periods, concentrated on Australian literature in a monthly column. A monthly short story was published until the early 1930s. The most distinguished contributors of fiction were E. J. Brady and Furnley Maurice. The journal also included regular columns that reported on bestsellers in overseas markets, overseas reception of Australian literature and the activities of local literary societies.
Thorpe was primarily interested in the book trade, which attracted some criticism from potential contributors. A passage in Nettie Palmer's correspondence portrays Thorpe as an editor who frequently 'confused literature with bookselling'. Nevertheless, his journal provided one of the few places where significant commentary on books and authors could be found during the 1930s.
In January 1934 Thorpe entered into a formal agreement with the Australian Literature Society. Membership of the Society would include a subscription to All About Books in which meeting announcements would appear exclusively. The A.L.S. Monthly Prize Review for a review of a new Australian book would be open to Society members only.
When booksellers began to withdraw their advertising during the depression, Thorpe found it hard to maintain All About Books for Australian and New Zealand Readers. In May 1938, he announced to subscribers that production would be suspended until conditions improved. Although Thorpe's other publications continued in various forms as he built a large publishing company, All About Books for Australian and New Zealand Readers remained closed except for a brief revival in 1961.